Learn to be more self sufficient; reduce your cost of living, take control of your food, clothing, energy and housing needs. Great course for those wanting to live off the grid.

Course Code: VSS008
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Become a Qualified Self Sufficiency Expert

  • Learn to be more Self Sufficient in your own life
  • Lay the foundation for a Career in the Green Industries

Learn to be more self sufficient from people with decades of experience. This course has been compiled and is taught by a  team of renowned experts in agriculture, horticulture, permaculture and self sufficiency. 

To complete the certificate you must successfully complete all assignments and pass exams in each of six modules as follows:

Compulsory Modules:

  • Self Sufficiency I
  • Self Sufficiency II

Contents of the Core Studies

Part I

  1. Introduction- “What can I grow or make myself?
  2. Health, Nutrition and Clothing- Learn the importance of good nutrition and health
  3. Horticulture ‑Learn about the relevance and application of horticulture to self sufficiency with Fruit and Vegetables
  4. Horticulture ‑ Learn about the cultivation and use of herbs.
  5. Animal Husbandry ‑ Learn about Poultry and Bees
  6. Animal Husbandry ‑ Learn about Grazing Animals and Pigs
  7. Building- Learn about the applications of building self sufficiency
  8. Energy- Learn about the application of alternative energy sources
  9. Craft and Country Skills- Learn about skills to make the most of your new lifestyle
  10. Making Decisions- Decisions that are made in a self sufficient lifestyle are different to those in modern society.

Part 2

  1. Diet & Nutrition - Introduction to good health, basic nutrition, food allergies, food combining, a well balanced diet.
  2. Establishing a Kitchen Garden - Deciding food plants that can be grown in your garden, designing a productive garden.
  3. Vegetables - Easy to grow vegetables, long cropping vegetables, culture for specific types of vegetables.
  4. Fruit - Cultural techniques for different types of fruits & berries, cross pollination
  5. Bottling - Equipment & techniques for jelly making & bottling.
  6. Freezing & Drying - Harvesting and preserving techniques including freezing & drying
  7. Producing Milk & Eggs - Milk from cows, sheep & goats, developing an egg production system, making cheese and yoghurt.
  8. Growing & Cooking with Herbs - Selection and cultivation of culinary herbs, drying herbs, recipes for cooking with herbs.
  9. Egg & Cheese Cookery - Storage and use of eggs & cheese, distinguishing different types of cheese, cooking with eggs & cheese.
  10. Grain - Growing sprouts, cereals, baking bread, etc.

Elective Modules

Choose four electives from those shown below. 

Other options may also be considered from courses offered through this school; if relevant to the needs of the student concerned.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the CERTIFICATE IN SELF SUFFICIENCY .
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 4 of the following 12 modules.

Note that each module in the CERTIFICATE IN SELF SUFFICIENCY is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

How to be more Self Sufficient

To be self sufficient requires a peculiar blend of three things:

  • Practical knowledge and skills.
  • Management or organisational skills.
  • A readiness to compromise. You may need to compromise to achieve a balance between the things you would like to have and the things you are able to provide yourself with.  A self sufficient lifestyle might make you less dependent on society, but this might only be possible at the expense of giving up some of society’s luxuries.

To become self sufficient, you must be selective in the goods and services you choose to supply yourself with.  It involves doing those things which yield greatest benefit in relation to the time, money and materials you need to spend on producing the goods or service (eg. if you spend $20 on fertiliser and seed in order to grow $10 worth of vegetables, you would have been better to not grow the vegetables at all - you could have bought them instead and still had $10 in pocket to spend on another more worthwhile project).

The way you physically organise your property and living space (both inside and out) as well as the way you organise your time, are vital factors in improving your level of self sufficiency.



In the event of a national crisis, the government will focus the greatest amount of resources on towns and cities. People living in remote isolated areas may find themselves having to look after themselves. People living in isolated areas are more likely to be badly affected than those living in cities. World events, such as strikes by police or fire workers, power cuts and so on, may affect you more. As resources are put into towns and cities, more isolated areas can lose out. In bad weather conditions, there may be a regular threat to loss of power and telephone. The UK can suffer extremes of weather, particularly snow; other countries face earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons, monsoons and so on. These can all have an effect. How?
  • Shortages due to strikes can lead to reduced power and fuel. Also, in light of terrorist attacks, people may rush to fill up their shelves, leaving supermarkets low on stock. After 9/11, in the UK, there was a shortage of bottled water as people were scared the tap water would be poisoned.
  • Prolonged cuts to electricity/gas can cause real difficulties, eg. The loss of foodstuffs from your freezer. 
  • Loss of communications may leave you vulnerable. Alternative communication sources can be used, such as mobile phones, radios, battery operated or wind-up TVs or radios to keep you up to date.
  • So what can you do in the event of a problem – remember preparation can give you peace of mind.
  • Ensure you have good stocks of toilet rolls, salt, powdered milk, flour and yeast to make bread – these are likely to go quickest in event of panic buying.
  • Money – ensure you have some money available for emergencies.
  • Travel – enough fuel, maybe tow ropes, mobile phone, blankets.
  • For power cuts – ensure you have fuel, perhaps a generator, batteries, rechargeable batteries, torches, wind-up/battery television or radio, cigarette lighter/matches.
  • Communications cut – a mobile phone – make sure you can recharge the battery!
  • Extreme cold – have logs, matches, paraffin and paraffin heaters available, perhaps even coal.
  • Animals – ensure they have sufficient feed, hay and straw.
  • Medical necessities – eg. aspirins, antiseptic, first aid kit, drinking water.

And finally, DON’T PANIC! Panic can cause far more problems than the crisis itself. It is in situations of crisis that you will find that you and your neighbours will band together and help each other out!

No matter what you do to become self sufficient, you will undoubtedly always still come across occasions where you need money to buy things.
For the “perfect” exponent of self sufficiency, the way around this is usually to find either a product or a service which can be produced and supplied from home: in essence, to develop a low key, home based business.
The first and most obvious option is to grow and sell some type of produce; or value-add by producing some art or craft item; perhaps selling on commission through a local retailer, or at a market. There are other options as well though. 
Preserving Foods
One way to be more self sufficient is to use food preservation methods to extends the shelf life of foods you produce. This way, a crop that might only be harvested over a few weeks of the year, can be treated, stored, and eaten, throughout the entire year.
Food preservation helps us achieve a higher level of self sufficiency; and allows us to keep our diet (hence nutrition) more diverse across the entire year.
Food Preservation techniqes do not need to use "nasty chemical preservatives". They can include freezing, drying, salting, smoking, pickling, bottling and other natural, chemical free methods.
How to Smoke Food
Smoking food is the oldest preservation technique to be considered in this chapter. Smoking does in fact go back to early civilizations where animal carcasses were hung over an open wood fire to extend the shelf life of the meat. It involves exposing foods to heat and smoke from a fire e.g. by hanging them over the fire or placing them in racks in a chamber designed to contain smoke. Smoking is most often used to preserve meat such as sausages, ham and bacon but is also useful in the preservation of other foods such as poultry, wild game, fish, nuts, seeds, cheese and vegetables such as onions and peppers.
Smoking preserves foods due to the drying effect of the smoke and also due to the incorporation of substances from smoke into foods which inhibit microorganisms e.g. chemicals such as formaldehyde. Smoking also imparts a characteristic flavour to food improving taste. Smoking foods is often performed in combination with salting foods. Salt draws water out of foods shortening the time required to smoke them as well as enhancing the smoky flavour.
If you intend to smoke foods on a regular basis you may wish to build your own smoke house or invest in a gas or electric water smoker. In the short term you may wish to use a large lidded saucepan with a fitted wire rack. You should add a thin layer of sawdust to the bottom of the pan and put the pan with the lid on over a fire or on the hob on a high heat setting. Once the pan starts to smoke the food to be smoked may then be placed upon the wire rack and smoked for the desired length of time. The length of time required to smoke foods depends on the type of food being smoked and its characteristics such as its moisture content.
Different woods impart different flavours on the smoked food and you may like to experiment with this, e.g. you may find that wood from an oak tree works well with red meat and fish while wood from an apple tree may give you the flavour you are looking for imparting a more mellow flavour. Importantly though, you should avoid using wood chippings that originate from pre-treated construction wood as these may release poisonous chemicals when burned, the same applies to garden chippings that may have come into contact with pesticides

How Will This Course Benefit Me?

You may just want to do this course for your personal purposes but it would also open up opportunities for you to work in advising others how to go about changing their life to s more self-sufficient and sustainable one. This gives you the opportunity to make an income from your own skills and knowledge and it would fit in well with self-sufficiency.

Many people would like to take the step but are not confident without the help of a professional - this could be you!


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Member of the Future Farmers Network

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Alternative Technology Association Member

Member of the Permaculture Association

Member of Study Gold Coast

College Member of Complementary Medicine Association assessed to teach a range of areas including Counselling, Nutrition, Natural Therapies.

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Adriana has worked in horticulture since the 1980's. She has lived what she preaches - developing large gardens and growing her own fruit, vegetables and herbs and making her own preserves.
In 1992 she formalised her training by graduating with a certif

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
Initially she worked with the Depart

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